Cambodia launches probe after prison inmate dies of alcohol poisoning

PRISON authorities in Cambodia are investigating a case of alleged alcohol poisoning which recently left an inmate dead and 15 others ill at the M4 prison in the Talou Sen Chey district, Pursat.

According to reports in the Phnom Penh Post, the incident occurred on June 27 when the men were drinking a mixture of alcohol with Coca-Cola, Carabao and instant coffee.

Talou Sen Chey district police said the Pursat Provincial Police Scientific Technical Committee investigated the scene the following day, but did not find any significant specimens.

Adhoc spokesman Soeng Sen Karuna said the case reflected neglect by prison officials who let the incident occur, causing an inmate to die.

“We want all units, not just the prison, to be careful not to let such cases recur. We will take measures to investigate this case and find out what happened. It shows the carelessness and neglect of prison guards,” he said.

General Department of Prisons (GDP) spokesman Nuth Savna said its inspection group has collaborated with the Pursat provincial prison chief to investigate, but has yet to report on the results.

“If we find a prison official responsible for causing the death of an inmate, he will be subject to expulsion by the National Police. But if it is unintentional, it is punishable by a suspension or a partial disqualification. But if it’s considered a small mistake there will be a written warning,” he said.

The inmate who died was Ya Rith, 25, who was serving time for a 2017 aggravated robbery of a motorcyclist that involved using a sword to threaten his victim.

The report also cited San Borey, the head of the prison’s H2 building, who clarified to the police that between 5pm and 6pm on June 26, Rith smuggled alcohol from the front of the building into his room.

The next day, the inmate suffered stomach ache, diarrhoea, vomiting and fatigue, and was sent to the Pursat provincial hospital for treatment. He died at the hospital at 9:20pm.

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